Case Digest: St. Luke's Medical Center & Kuan v. Notario

G.R. No. 152166 : October 20, 2010

ST. LUKE'S MEDICAL CENTER, INC. and ROBERT KUAN, Chairman, Petitioners, v. ESTRELITO NOTARIO, Respondent.



St. Luke's Medical Center, Inc. employed respondent as In-House Security Guard. His work consisted mainly of monitoring the video cameras. Justin Tibon reported to the management of petitioner hospital about the loss of his mint green traveling bag at the time of respondent's duty. The cameras failed to record any incident of theft at room 257.

Respondent explained that on the subject dates, he was the only personnel on duty as nobody wanted to assist him. Because of this, he decided to focus the cameras on the Old and New Maternity Units, as these two units have high incidence of crime.

Finding the written explanation of respondent to be unsatisfactory, petitioner hospital served on respondent a copy of the Notice of Termination.

Respondent filed a Complaint for illegal dismissal against petitioner hospital and its Chairman. Labor Arbiter dismissed respondents complaint for illegal dismissal against petitioners. On appeal by the respondent, the NLRC issued a Resolution reversing the Decision of the Labor Arbiter. It stated that petitioners failed to submit proof that there was an existing Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in the CCTV monitoring system, particularly on the focusing procedure.

Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but the same was denied by the NLRC. CA dismissed petitioners' petition for certiorari, affirming the NLRC's finding that while respondent may appear to be negligent in monitoring the cameras on the subject dates, the same would not constitute sufficient ground to terminate his employment.
Whether or not a contract for the repurchase of the foreclosed properties was perfected between petitioner and respondent bank?

Court of Appeals decision is sustained.


To effectuate a valid dismissal from employment by the employer, the Labor Code has set twin requirements, namely: (1) the dismissal must be for any of the causes provided in Article 282 of the Labor Code; and (2) the employee must be given an opportunity to be heard and defend himself. This first requisite is referred to as the substantive aspect, while the second is deemed as the procedural aspect.

An employer can terminate the services of an employee only for valid and just causes which must be supported by clear and convincing evidence. The employer has the burden of proving that the dismissal was indeed for a valid and just cause.

Under Article 282 (b) of the Labor Code, an employer may terminate an employee for gross and habitual neglect of duties. Neglect of duty, to be a ground for dismissal, must be both gross and habitual. Gross negligence connotes want of care in the performance of ones duties. Habitual neglect implies repeated failure to perform one's duties for a period of time, depending upon the circumstances. A single or isolated act of negligence does not constitute a just cause for the dismissal of the employee. Under the prevailing circumstances, respondent exercised his best judgment in monitoring the CCTV cameras so as to ensure the security within the hospital premises. Verily, assuming arguendo that respondent was negligent, although this Court finds otherwise, the lapse or inaction could only be regarded as a single or isolated act of negligence that cannot be categorized as habitual and, hence, not a just cause for his dismissal.


Where the dismissal was without just cause and there was no due process, Article 279 of the Labor Code, as amended, mandates that the employee is entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and full backwages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits, or their monetary equivalent computed from the time the compensation was not paid up to the time of actual reinstatement.

The awards of separation pay and backwages are not mutually exclusive and both may be given to respondent. An employee who is illegally dismissed is entitled to the twin reliefs of full backwages and reinstatement. If reinstatement is not viable, separation pay is awarded to the employee. In awarding separation pay to an illegally dismissed employee, in lieu of reinstatement, the amount to be awarded shall be equivalent to one month salary for every year of service.